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Parent-Child Contact during Incarceration: Predictors of Involvement among Resident and Nonresident Parents Following Release from Prison

Despite promising evidence that family contact during incarceration may reduce recidivism, less is understood about its role in postrelease parental involvement with children. Drawing on data from the randomized controlled trial of the Parent Child Study, this article examines in-prison parent-child contact in relation to postrelease parent-caregiver relationships, residence, and nonresidential contact. Predictors of contact include measures of visits, calls, and letters. We use ordinary least-squares regression, logistic regression, and multivariate negative binomial models to assess the outcomes. We show that in-prison visits and calls are associated with caregiver relationship quality and that more frequent visits increase the odds of both postrelease parent-child residence and nonresidential visits. Parent-child visits in prison predict parent involvement after release and may be vital to children and families over and above contact in general. Findings have implications for social workers, criminal justice practitioners, policy makers, and nonprofit agency staff working with incarcerated parents.